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Friday, September 23

Boy, did I ever step in it

I managed to keep my mouth shut on this blog for almost 12 years about Tibetan Buddhism. As soon as I opened it I accidentally started a riot. Oh well, it's the thought that counts. 

Now I have a choice. I can remove the post, which risks offending Mahakala. Have you ever seen a depiction of Mahakala? Never mind. Or I can try to explain. However, I don't think this is a good idea unless you have 20 hours to spare for a discussion of Chinese and Indian politics and how these intersect with Tibetan politics, and how all this intersects with Tibetan Vajrayana Lineage politics. That last is so complicated it makes Vatican politics look like a game of Tiddlywinks because it involves what people generally refer to as 'reincarnation.' 

Maybe if I just try blurting it out and hope readers are in an understanding mood today. The man who is identified as the 17th Karmapa in the YouTube video I posted of a Mahakala puja isn't the genuine 17th Karmapa. 

There, that was pretty painless. Or rather, he's not the "traditional" Karmapa. Now what is the difference between a genuine Karmapa and a traditional Karmapa? Thereby hangs a 20-hour tale, unless one wants to simply call it politics.

Anyhow, I think the puja itself is perfectly genuine. And traditional Pundita let's shut up while we think we're ahead.

Okay; I've just come to an executive decision. Let's take a tour of Ladakh with the 17th Karmapa. All the fun without the altitude sickness.

Hi Pundita:

The question of which claimant to the title of Karmapa Lama should be recognized is a vexed one, but for what it's worth, your first choice -- the one whose puja you posted -- has the approval of both HH the Dalai Lama and Tai Situ Rinpoche, whereas the second, whose tour of Ladakh you posted above, has the approval of the Shamapa, a traditional regent whose nomination of a Karmapa candidate would normally carry great weight. As I understand it, Tai Situ Rinpoche is also such a regent for the Karmapa, so the regents themselves are in disagreement.

In these circumstances, where even the Dalai and Shamar Lamas hold opposing views, it is perhaps wise for the rest of us to note the discrepancy and allow the political and theological ramifications to unfold as they will..
Charles, thank you for your helpful comment. But I knew of the controversy at the time I posted the video of the Mahakala puja. I didn't care. I was focused on my American readers, some of whom are military veterans and who are in a cold fury -- going all the way back to Vietnam in some cases -- about the venal treatment of US troops by their government.

Even though it's unlikely any of those readers would understand the words and precise meaning of the puja, focusing on it pulls the mind back from the brink of rage, which is its function. So I just hurled the video of the puja onto my blog. Overlooking that the blog goes all around the world, forgetting how it would be interpreted by Tibetans and various actors in the Karmapa controversy.

For what it's worth, the puja in the video was conducted in 2012, when if I recall the controversy was nearing its height. I think they have squared the circle by now although whether that would hold after the Dalai Lama's death I don't know.

In any case my posting of the documentary is my acknowledgment that key players in the controversy have accepted that Trinley Thaye Dorje is the 'authentic' 17th Karmapa. Although to explain why would be the 20 hour discourse.

But no question I stepped in it -- another lesson that compassion without mindfulness can be just as destructive as venality. It is a lesson that runs like a thread through the tapestry of my life -- and the lives of so many other Americans.

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